Gillingham will welcome Bristol Rovers to Priestfield Stadium on Saturday with the aim of bouncing back from a disappointing midweek defeat against Peterborough United.
After leading at half-time, the Gills succumbed to an impressive second-half Posh display and lost 3-1, much to the frustration of players and fans alike.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, Gills captain and midfielder Kyle Dempsey tackled the press via Zoom. Here are five of his key quotes.
“We were really disappointed. After the first-half display we came in at half-time and were thinking about getting two and three and putting the game to bed.
“The intensity and the way we played, at 3-1 you sit there and wonder how it has happened, but they have come out second-half and it has taken us a lot longer than it should have to adapt to how they implemented their style of play on the game.
“It is a learning curve – we have seen it now with Lincoln and Peterborough – once you switch off for little moments you get punished, but we dust ourselves off and focus on the positives.”
Gillingham ultimately lost 3-1 on Tuesday, but it could have been oh so different.
The Gills went into half-time 1-0 up thanks to a John Akinde penalty, and had controlled most of the game. But a rejuvenated Posh turned things round in the second-half, and lessons must be learnt.
“I feel like we got in the situation of putting results back-to-back, and we got the win against Charlton and the win against Peterborough and I thought ‘here we go, this is our time to push on’, but we have not been able to capitalise on that and that has been the story of our season.
“We give away sloppy goals and wins when we should be winning the game and as a team we know we are lacking that consistency – we need that until the end of the year now to give ourself any chance.”
Gillingham are eight points off the play-off spots in League One, but performances perhaps should have yielded more points, meaning this season could easily become a ‘what could have been’ for the Gills.
Consistency in results is needed, and Dempsey has made that clear.
On is time so far at Gillingham
“It has been absolutely great. The fans can see that I have got all my confidence back – one thing that has been playing on my mind over the last couple of seasons is not being that productive goalscoring midfielder so to get that back shows credit to the gaffer for giving me that belief and every time I go into the game, I feel like I will get the chance to score.
“The fans on social media give me a lot of confidence and I want to go out there and put a performance for them with how welcoming they have been – I just hope that they can get back in soon and I can do it live for them.
“Every single game I want to be the best player on the pitch, get goals and get assists. I know if I am performing it can only help the team and if I see a player playing well and out of his skin it strives me onto want to do the team. All I can focus on is trying to be the best out there and helping out the team.”
Dempsey signed for Gillingham in the summer and has been one of their star men this season, contributing six goals and three assists from midfield whilst leading the team with the armband.
By Dempsey’s own admission, he needed a fresh start after his career had gone stale. He has had that at Gillingham, and it truly is a shame the fans cannot be in the stadiums to see his performances firsthand.
Gillingham will do very well to keep hold of him in the summer.
On a late push
“You see it every year – there is always that one team that will put eight or nine wins on the bounce and start climbing up there, and more often than not they will sneak into those play-offs and that is a big aim for us.
“We have to put five or six wins together on the bounce and get ourselves up there and that is probably the main focus.”
With the season well over the halfway point and Gillingham sitting in midtable, a push up the league needs to happen sooner rather than later.
With plenty of games coming in a short space of time, they have the opportunity to do just that.
On Bristol Rovers
“I have been in teams where managers have been sacked and you know there could be potential managers sat in the stands watching, so it is down to you to shine and show the new manager what you are about.
“We know it is going to be a really tough battle and we have to concentrate on implementing our own game plan and style of play and hopefully that takes care of business.
“We played them long ago and a lot of things have changed. Every single player has a point to prove and we need to counteract that.”
Bristol Rovers are struggling in the league table, just two points clear of the relegation zone in 18th, but invested heavily in the summer and, on paper, have a pretty good squad.
They have just parted ways with a manager for the second time this season and caretaker manager Tommy Widdrington guided the Gas to an impressive victory over Portsmouth in midweek. Only time will tell what they deliver on Saturday, but the Gills will have to be ready for what is heading their way.